Student Dies After Collapsing at Marathon

Kjell A. Tovander ’09 died on Sunday after collapsing during the Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Okla.

Tovander, who was running in the half-marathon division of the race, was attended to by medical staff at the event before he was taken to St. John Medical Center where he died, according to Tulsa World, the city’s daily newspaper.

Tovander, a Course VI major and resident of MacGregor House, was on leave from MIT and was planning to enter the Navy, the Tulsa World reported. MacGregor residents were informed of his death in an e-mail from the housemaster last night.

The Oklahoma medical examiner said yesterday that the cause of death was still unknown and that a final determination based on test results would be available within the next four months, according to the Claremore Daily Progress, the newspaper of Tovander’s hometown.

In an interview with a local television station, his mother, Margie Tovander, said that “he had just had a physical a few months ago with the Navy, and everything came out perfect.”

Chris Lieberman, executive director of the race said, “We are deeply saddened that one of our runners didn’t come home … Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of this young man,” according to Tulsa World.

At MIT, Tovander was involved in UROP research in the Sports Innovation program. He worked on a project that aimed to develop better chest protectors for catchers. The project was featured in the Boston Globe in April.

Tovander was chair of his entry, D-entry, in MacGregor when he was a sophomore in 2006-2007.

Thomas Rand-Nash G, D-entry graduate resident tutor, wrote in an e-mail to the entry, “Those who knew Kjell loved him, because he was awesome in his own unique way.”

At his high school in Claremore, he had been valedictorian of his class and a member of the marching band.

His mother said to the local TV station, “He inspired everyone. Touched a lot of lives.”